The story of the migrant with the fake Rolex who charges real prices for finding an apartment

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Moustafa M.

An immigrant is wearing shiny shoes, a golden chain and a fake Rolex watch carrying a keychain and a wallet in one hand and a pack of cigarettes and mobile phone in the other. He’s one of the many migrants who’ve become middlemen in the real estate business.

There’s nothing wrong with this on the surface, and everything appears legal except that some are taking advantage of desperate migrants who don’t still read Finnish never mind Helsingin Sanomat, where they can search for the same apartments for the price of a newspaper.

The desperation that some migrants suffer is entirely understandable. Lots of them who got their residence permits want to build a home after their long journey through Europe to Finland and after living for months at reception centers where they’ve suffered humiliating treatment in the worst of cases.

No matter who you are or where you are from, the standard going price to find an apartment is 500 euros up front. The middleman will then offer you three apartments, and you’d better have a good reason for not accepting to live in the flat.

Here’s an example of how the scam works: The migrant who paid 500 euros in advance pays another 500 euros onfind the apartment. Add to that a two-month deposit of say 2,000 euros plus 1,000 euros for the first month of rent and the total cost adds up to 4,000 euros!

Any problem? None at all because the municipality foots the bill!

Thanks to greedy landlords as well, these middlemen will spice the deal by asking them to raise the rent by 20%.

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